The COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on the livelihoods, social dynamics, and service provision in underserved urban neighborhoods in Morocco. Cramped lodgings hold families and idle breadwinners in forced confinement, producing spikes in domestic violence, despair, as well as increased food insecurity.
Until recently, civil society (CSO) partners of USAID's Favorable Opportunities to Reinforce Self-Advancement for Today's Youth (FORSATY) program have been responding as best they can. Now, thanks to USAID COVID-19 response efforts, they have the means to tackle the issues that have exacerbated existing vulnerabilities during the COVID-19 outbreak.
To address one of the most important underlying needs, USAID's FORSATY program is supporting the basic needs of food-insecure families. Food basket distribution began in June 2020, and as many as 20,000 baskets, providing food supplies to families in need, will be provided through July 2020.
The program will also broaden access to lifelines and connectivity with the outside world through prepaid phone and Internet cards. Thousands of $5 and $10 prepaid cards are being distributed to families that depend on USAID FORSATY partners for psychosocial support as well as distance learning and activities that keep youth on a constructive path. The prepaid cards often determine a family's capacity to access distance services such as psychosocial support. With these phone cards, CSOs can increase the reach and impact of virtual psychosocial services.
Despite a lack of privacy in dwellings and the challenges of working at a distance, psychosocial services are making a difference. "My daughters Yousra and Bethania both suffered nightmares from fear of the virus and the stress of confinement," said one mother in Tetouan, "They are calm and serene now thanks to phone sessions with the social worker."
Family members are also accessing distance learning, vocational counseling, training and work readiness through the program. Excluded youth over 18 take part in distance activities organized by volunteers.
FORSATY CSO partners have also already reached hundreds of households to provide critical information on health safety and government financial support. CSOs have helped more than 350 families challenged by illiteracy and extreme poverty to e-register for financial support from the Government of Morocco. Delivering the basics alleviates suffering and helps thousands to stay on a path of resilience and growth.
USAID/Morocco's FORSATY program runs from 2019 to 2024 and is implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). FORSATY enhances resilience in communities in Morocco by increasing participation, promoting responsive, effective governance, and fostering locally led initiatives to reduce community vulnerabilities to violent extremism.